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Take a moment to appreciate the beauty and vastness of the sky. Dacher Keltner guides us through a practice of pausing to turn your gaze to the sky as a pathway to awe, creativity and wonder.
Go someplace where you feel safe and also have a nice view of the sky.
First, focus on your breathing. Take a few slow inhales and even slower exhales. As you breathe in and out, relax your shoulders, your hands, and your face.
On the next breath in, look up at the sky. Notice how vast it is.
Breathing naturally, notice everything you can about the sky. What colors are present? Are there any clouds? Do you see any gradation of light?
Expand your gaze to get the fullest view and sense of the sky that you can. Spend a few moments taking it in.
On the final deep breaths in and out, reflect on how doing this practice has made you feel.
Today’s Happiness Break host:
Dacher Keltner is the host of the Greater Good Science Center’s award-winning podcast, The Science of Happiness and is a co-instructor of the GGSC’s popular online course of the same name. He’s also the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Check out Dacher’s most recent book, Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life: https://tinyurl.com/4j4hcvyt
Resources from The Greater Good Science Center:
Why we Should Look up at the Sky (Podcast): https://tinyurl.com/fn3bttw6
Six Ways to Incorporate Awe into Your Daily Life: https://tinyurl.com/3j5hdtj7
How to Choose a Type of Mindfulness Meditation: https://tinyurl.com/py6b729h
How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative: https://tinyurl.com/2fmpdpkj
Why is nature so good for your mental health? https://tinyurl.com/23zavth3
We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experience of looking up. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
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We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner When’s the last time you tilted your head to the sky and just let your mind wander? Well, today we’ll spend a few minutes together doing just that.
I’m Dacher Keltner, this is Happiness Break, where we take a little break in your day to find a moment of happiness.
We’ve been developing different practices to get you outdoors and to enjoy the benefits of nature. We know from hundreds of studies that just getting outside and reflecting upon your relationship to nature benefits us in really a dozen different ways. It changes our sense of self. We become less stressed. It shifts our physiology away from the fight or flight profile of stress to a profile of higher vagal tone and less cortisol and more connectivity.
I think that the benefits of taking in what is vast, which are numerous, come about because when we remind ourselves of the vast things out in the world, like vast oceans, forests, vast trees, vast skies, vast star-lit skies, we remember very dramatically that we’re, we’re just a tiny part of the universe. Our concerns aren’t as significant as we make them out to be. And we also feel a sense of we’re part of something larger, right? That gives us a sense of strength and purpose.
Studies in our Berkeley lab found that when we take in vast things like views and large trees or the sky, we feel less entitled. We feel less stressed out. We feel kinder towards other people. We’re more altruistic. We’re less worried about the material world in some sense. So, there are real powerful benefits to simple activities where we take in what is vast, like looking to the sky.
I usually do this when I’m walking or sitting outside in a park or just taking a break from work.
So if you need to pause this episode and go someplace where you feel safe and have a nice view of the sky. And for a couple of minutes, together, we’re going to look at the sky.
First, what I’d like you to do is let’s settle in, as we always do, to a nice pattern of breathing. So take a nice deep breath in. As you breathe out, just relax your shoulders and your hands and your face.
Another nice deep breath in expanding your rib cage, filling your chest with air. Breathing out.
Now in this next breath in, I just want you to look at the sky. Just kinda look up. Take in the vastness of the sky.
Breathing in. Just allow your gaze to kind of take in the entirety of what you see in the sky.
Now as you breathe in, notice the light. Get a sense of the light distributed throughout the sky. Notice how it changes across your view, where it’s bright, where it’s less bright.
Now as you’re taking in the sky and moving your gaze around and continuing our breathing, notice gradations of color, such subtle shifts in color.
How would you describe the different colors that you see across the sky?
Even in this brief moment, breathing in, have you noticed the colors change? Light changes?
Now notice any clouds. Sort of focus your attention on some clouds up there in the sky. Just notice what their shapes are, their sizes. Just continue for a few breaths, just looking at the clouds, relating to one another.
And now again, expand your gaze. Get a sense of the full sky on our final couple of breaths. Just notice what you’re taking in.
On this last breath, just take in the sky and notice your relationship to it and how this practice has made you feel.
Breathing in. Breathing out.
There’s so many benefits to reminding ourselves of the vast things that we’re related to, be it a stand of trees, or a big view, or the sky. We get such perspective when we expand our view to things that are vast, that are high above, that give us a sense of time and are a small part of the universe. So this practice is called Look to the Sky.
I’m Dacher Keltner, Thanks for taking this Happiness break with me.
Let us know what you saw when you looked at the sky, and how the practice made you feel. Email us at email@example.com, or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
Happiness Break is produced by PRX and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.